What Agencies Can Learn From a Superstar Startup
What does it take to make a marketing hit? Sure, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to coordinate a perfectly engineered and focus-group approved campaign, but even the best-laid plans can always lead to anticlimactic (or even disappointing) results. But common media logic indicates that to make a major impact with an audience, bigger is better. Right?
Wrong. There are startups launching every day that are using scrappy wits and speed to capture an audience’s attention and convert viewers into customers. And you don’t have to reach far back into this year to find one of the best examples of startup marketing done right: Dollar Shave Club.
Materializing out of nowhere in early March, the startup made a huge splash with a viral marketing video starring the company’s CEO, Michael Dubin. The video became an instant viral video success, and the subscription-based razor service netted two million views on YouTube within the first 48 hours, and now has five million on tally to date. But the fledgling business did more than raise awareness with its humorous clip — Dollar Shave Club used the video to score $1 million from VCs before launch and gain 12,000 new subscriptions within the first two days of debut.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the reaction to the film” says Dubin. “We were so excited and it was incredible — our site even crashed.”
Mashable spoke with Dubin, who also was previously the Digital Marketing Director for Sports Illustrated, and uncovered three ways to infuse that scrappy startup mentality into every media campaigns.
What’s your favorite viral marketing video? Let us know in the comments.
1. Stay Quick
One of the things Dubin says major media agencies miss out on the most when developing a campaign for their clients is speed.
“Big companies, I think, are often plagued with being slower moving,” Dubin says. “The more people you have in the chain to approve things, the less that’s going to get done.”
For the Dollar Shave Club team, that meant developing a video with modern trends that tickled the fancy of their target market — men. Dubin says that in developing the video, he looked for inspiration in the viral marketing success of the videos from Orabrush and 2. Stay Smart, Stay Aligned
With a budget of only $4,500 to make the video, Dubin says the team had to think creatively in order to get the most bang for their buck. In order to conserve the limited budget, the video was shot in the company’s actual manufacturing warehouse and utilized as much equipment that was already available as possible — including Dubin’s own personality.
“Who you see in that video is very much me,” Dubin says. “People who see it and know me will say, ‘Hey, that’s just him being him, and he’s not putting on an act.'”
Resource conservation was also extended into the actual production of the video, a task that Dubin left up to his director, Lucia Aniello of Paulilu Productions. In addition to picking out the camera equipment and hand-selecting the crew, Aniello impressed with her comedic timing — a result of her extensive work with the Upright Citizens Brigade and developing various digital comedic shorts. Dubin says he trusted her to also keep alignment with the overall brand.
“There’s really a lot of credit to be given to her for making those decisions,” Dubin says. “She stylized all of the takes.”
By staying aligned, both in vision and in budget, Dollar Shave Club could seamlessly work with a production crew to strike the right tone and make a video worth watching.
“We’re communicating the brand that I’ve always wanted to build for the company,” Dubin adds.
3. Bold Means Memorable
Of course, the overall goal for the Dollar Shave Club video was to make it memorable enough to raise brand awareness and gain new customers. But, creating a memorable video is much harder than it sounds. Dubin says the strategy was to capture the audience with humor.
“Content is a big part of our strategy, and there will be more coming,” Dubin says. “I wanted people to laugh, and people tend to remember something it if it gives them a visceral response.”
However, it’s worth noting that humor isn’t for everyone — going straight to the funny well doesn’t always work for brands, even if the video is destined for the Internet. In contrast, consider the online video Procter & Gamble released in partnership with the Olympics, “Best Job.” While it’s much more serious in tone, it actually shares a lot in common with Dollar Shave Club’s viral hit: It pushes for an emotional reaction within the audience, and in turn, it injects itself in the memories of the viewers.
For all its goofy antics, Dubin says the video has done its job right. “The soil was fertile for us to tell our very specific story, and certainly a great piece of content helped us do that.”